Angel Investing 101: With Daniel Skavén Ruben

Angel Investing 101: With Daniel Skavén Ruben

By
Sam Panzer
July 12, 2021

Angel Investing 101: With Daniel Skavén Ruben

“It’s all a bit serendipitous.”

That’s how Daniel Skavén Ruben describes the matchmaking process between startups and angel investors –– early-stage, individual investors who support companies at the very beginning of their journeys.

It’s a process he knows well, as a food tech expert, investor, and advisor to startups, VCs, and accelerators. He’s also the host of this year’s FoodHack Summit (and writes the excellent FoodTech Weekly newsletter –– subscribe!). 

This week, we sat down with Daniel to chat angel investing: why it’s needed, how it works, and tips for startups seeking angel investment.

🤷 What are angel investors?

Angel investors are individual investors who invest in the earliest stage of a company’ growth. They invest a ‘small’ amount (typically $10K to $100K) before other more traditional investors would be confident enough to invest.

“It’s an interesting risk / reward,” says Ruben. “Early-stage startups are very high risk, and most will not make it. So valuations at that stage are very attractive.” 

That means angels do have a shot at a nice big return –– but most angels aren’t just looking to get in early with a unicorn. They typically have expertise and a network in the startup’s space, so they can actively advise the business towards success. For experts like Ruben, that’s an “opportunity to pay it forward and give back.”

Because angel investors tend to play a hands-on role, they often focus on the industry they know best. In Ruben’s case, that’s “advancing a more sustainable and nourishing food system,” but “other angels have other focus areas. You can optimize the food system for different things. You may care deeply about animal welfare, organic, locally-grown, nutrition, gender, economic opportunity.”

Where different types of funding options come to play in a startup lifecycle. Source: wikimedia

🤔 Why take angel investment?

So what about the startup receiving the investment?

First, It’s available. In the early days, the best a foodtech startup can hope for from a VC is “come back later.” It’s at this stage when angels come in to provide much-needed capital to a great idea or product that might not have a real business plan sorted out.

Second, you gain an advisor. Most angels know your industry well, with a great network of partners, distributors, or possible team members to introduce you to. A small equity stake in the company gives the angels a great incentive to do everything they can to support the business.

👋 How to find your angel?

According to Ruben, the key is to “get yourself out there. Don’t be afraid of sharing your idea. There’s probably 100 people out there who already have the same idea. It’s all about how you execute that idea. You need to dare to share. Even if there are companies doing something similar, there are also differences in how you approach things.”

There are a lot of ways to get the word out. Here are a few examples:

  • Attend conferences: join meetups and events (yep, like the FoodHack Summit) where you can chat with like-minded professionals. Even if you don’t talk to the angel you need, you'll likely connect with someone who can provide you with a warm intro at a later stage.
  • Engage on LinkedIn/Twitter: post the behind-the-scenes story of your startup or share relevant content aligned with your business or industry to start growing your following with potential investors.
  • Participate to accelerators: dedicated accelerators within your industry attract eager angel investors who are looking for the next big thing and most accelerators typically have some sort of investor <> startup matchmaking included in the program. Some will even cut you your first check.
  • Subscribe to newsletters: newsletters like this and Daniel’s FoodTech Weekly are a great way to see who is investing in what spaces and help build your pipeline for later.
  • Attend pitch events: demo days and pitch events are a great way to get your company out to an audience of investors or to collect feedback on your pitch and business idea for further development.
  • Get your deck to investors: our dedicated investor newsletter gets your deck into the inboxes of 200+ VC’s, CVC’s and business angels in foodtech. Selfish plug? You bet, but it works, is free and we’ve matched nearly 100 startups to investors so far.

Sponsored by StartLife

Early-stage Agrifoodtech Startup? Apply to StartLife

StartLife, Europe’s longest running and leading agrifoodtech accelerator, is calling on food & agtech startups to apply to StartLife Accelerate.

Participating startups benefit from:

💼 Business development support
🕴 Introductions to leading corporates
💰 Up to €250K as a convertible loan
💸 Access to (pre)seed and growth investors
👋 Connections to Wageningen University experts

Who should apply? If you're a (pre)seed startup shaping a sustainable food system through innovative technology, and looking to scale up: Apply here before the application deadline of 2nd August 2021.


👀 Who: Angel Syndicates

It’s a loose (and new) category, but we’re seeing more and more “angel syndicates” –– groups of angel investors who curate investors and startups in one place, host pitch events, share intel, and make introductions. 

Syndicates range from informal groups of investors who meet up for coffee, to formal teams with shared staff to help find and approach potential investments.

Most syndicates these days will feature your foodtech startup and have relevant investors in the their network, but here are a few foodtech-focused syndicates worth looking into:

👀 Who: Angel Investors

We put out a call to find out who are the most active angel investors in FoodTech, and received 50+ suggestions from founders and investors. Here are a few that stood out (in no particular order).

  • Ryan Bethencourt: applied biology expert with 140+ biotech/foodtech angel investments. Cutting some of the first checks at Clara Foods, NotCo and many, many others.
  • Michal Klar: plant- and cell-based angel investor with a preference for APAC. Invested in Next Gen Foods and Change Foods amongst others. 
  • Rob Wilder: founder of FoodTech angels and partner of legendary restaurant innovator ThinkFoodGroup.
  • Lara Nuchowicz: focused on investments supporting healthier lives and planet.
  • Erik Byrenius: investor at Trellis Road and angel investor since his restaurant delivery company exited to Delivery Hero in 2012.
  • Neeraj Berry: formerly co-founder of Sprig and now an active investor across foodtech including early investments at Gorillas, Orbillion Bio, Kingdom Supercultures and more.
  • Sean O’Sullivan: “super angel” with 50+ investments in foodtech, including Geltor and Upside Foods.
  • Margaret Coblentz: founder and expert in retail products.
  • Michiel Van Deursen: entrepreneur turned plant-based investor who invested early with The Vegetarian Butcher. Investor at at Heura, Evo Foods, The Vurger Co. and 20+ others.
  • Timo Meyer: broad investment area including CPGs and consumer apps (featuring an early investment into Gorillas).
  • Maximilian Bade: former Atlantic Food Labs investor with a broad angel profile as investor and advisor (including bioreactor meat and circular packaging).
  • Gary Lin: investment profile expands beyond food, but does have a solid streak of social impact and foodtech investments including BIOMILQ, Stockeld Dreamery, Wild Earth and more.
  • HonMun Yip: former Temasek exec making alternative protein investments and advising early-stage startups.
  • Heather Mills: VBites founder and plant-based diet enthusiast.
  • Wolf Michael Nietzer: attorney and investor, as well as founder of Food Angels Germany who have backed Redefine Meat, Just Spices, Peace Of Meat and around 20+ others.
  • Gwendolyn Schröter: impact-oriented and sustainable startup investor in Germany.
  • Gil Horsky: Director of Innovation at SnackFutures (Mondelez innovation & venture studio) with deep corporate experience.
  • Maja Markowitz: the Berlin-based investment manager (now with btov) with an interest in angel investment.
  • Simon Newstead: serial entrepreneur and vegan investor. Investments include Shiok Meats, Change Foods, and around 10 more.
  • Beni Nofech: alt-protein investor in Tel-Aviv, investing in alt protein startups like SuperMeat and Remilk.

💡 Tips for angel fundraising

🔗 Dare to share

Ruben strongly recommends companies “don’t be too secretive.” It’s key to get the word out on your business to the right audience and start building traction early on.

👋 Start the relationship early

Angel investors are normal people like you and me (just with some extra pocket change to spare). Like any normal person, angel investors are more likely to trust, and invest, into people they know. So start networking and building the relationship early on.

📖 Study your space

It’s vital to “learn about the market you’re trying to disrupt. Subscribe to relevant newsletters. Find investors who have invested in similar spaces.” That knowledge will help lend you credibility and approach angels with relevant asks. More tips on researching an investor here.

🧠 Ask for feedback

Think of your angel conversations as ‘pressure tests’ for your ideas. Use them to collect feedback on your business idea and pitch. Angels generally care about your space and want more innovation and growth in the area –– they’re in your corner, even if you’re not in their portfolio.

🖊 Get it in writing

Finally, whatever value you expect the angel to bring –– get it in writing. A major piece of the value angels offer is their advising, so try and map out that engagement as best you can. Here's some helpful tips on advisory shares.

If you're angel investing in foodtech or a startup looking for investors, come join us at this years FoodHack Summit on October 5-6. With already 30+ startups and 20+ investors in foodtech attending, you might just find your match.

Boring disclaimer: This is not financial or investment advice and should not be taken as such. This is not intended to serve as the basis for any investment decision, and doing further due diligence on a potential investment is highly recommended. Invest (or don't) into startups at your own risk.

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Angel Investing 101: With Daniel Skavén Ruben

“It’s all a bit serendipitous.”

That’s how Daniel Skavén Ruben describes the matchmaking process between startups and angel investors –– early-stage, individual investors who support companies at the very beginning of their journeys.

It’s a process he knows well, as a food tech expert, investor, and advisor to startups, VCs, and accelerators. He’s also the host of this year’s FoodHack Summit (and writes the excellent FoodTech Weekly newsletter –– subscribe!). 

This week, we sat down with Daniel to chat angel investing: why it’s needed, how it works, and tips for startups seeking angel investment.

🤷 What are angel investors?

Angel investors are individual investors who invest in the earliest stage of a company’ growth. They invest a ‘small’ amount (typically $10K to $100K) before other more traditional investors would be confident enough to invest.

“It’s an interesting risk / reward,” says Ruben. “Early-stage startups are very high risk, and most will not make it. So valuations at that stage are very attractive.” 

That means angels do have a shot at a nice big return –– but most angels aren’t just looking to get in early with a unicorn. They typically have expertise and a network in the startup’s space, so they can actively advise the business towards success. For experts like Ruben, that’s an “opportunity to pay it forward and give back.”

Because angel investors tend to play a hands-on role, they often focus on the industry they know best. In Ruben’s case, that’s “advancing a more sustainable and nourishing food system,” but “other angels have other focus areas. You can optimize the food system for different things. You may care deeply about animal welfare, organic, locally-grown, nutrition, gender, economic opportunity.”

Where different types of funding options come to play in a startup lifecycle. Source: wikimedia

🤔 Why take angel investment?

So what about the startup receiving the investment?

First, It’s available. In the early days, the best a foodtech startup can hope for from a VC is “come back later.” It’s at this stage when angels come in to provide much-needed capital to a great idea or product that might not have a real business plan sorted out.

Second, you gain an advisor. Most angels know your industry well, with a great network of partners, distributors, or possible team members to introduce you to. A small equity stake in the company gives the angels a great incentive to do everything they can to support the business.

👋 How to find your angel?

According to Ruben, the key is to “get yourself out there. Don’t be afraid of sharing your idea. There’s probably 100 people out there who already have the same idea. It’s all about how you execute that idea. You need to dare to share. Even if there are companies doing something similar, there are also differences in how you approach things.”

There are a lot of ways to get the word out. Here are a few examples:

  • Attend conferences: join meetups and events (yep, like the FoodHack Summit) where you can chat with like-minded professionals. Even if you don’t talk to the angel you need, you'll likely connect with someone who can provide you with a warm intro at a later stage.
  • Engage on LinkedIn/Twitter: post the behind-the-scenes story of your startup or share relevant content aligned with your business or industry to start growing your following with potential investors.
  • Participate to accelerators: dedicated accelerators within your industry attract eager angel investors who are looking for the next big thing and most accelerators typically have some sort of investor <> startup matchmaking included in the program. Some will even cut you your first check.
  • Subscribe to newsletters: newsletters like this and Daniel’s FoodTech Weekly are a great way to see who is investing in what spaces and help build your pipeline for later.
  • Attend pitch events: demo days and pitch events are a great way to get your company out to an audience of investors or to collect feedback on your pitch and business idea for further development.
  • Get your deck to investors: our dedicated investor newsletter gets your deck into the inboxes of 200+ VC’s, CVC’s and business angels in foodtech. Selfish plug? You bet, but it works, is free and we’ve matched nearly 100 startups to investors so far.

Sponsored by StartLife

Early-stage Agrifoodtech Startup? Apply to StartLife

StartLife, Europe’s longest running and leading agrifoodtech accelerator, is calling on food & agtech startups to apply to StartLife Accelerate.

Participating startups benefit from:

💼 Business development support
🕴 Introductions to leading corporates
💰 Up to €250K as a convertible loan
💸 Access to (pre)seed and growth investors
👋 Connections to Wageningen University experts

Who should apply? If you're a (pre)seed startup shaping a sustainable food system through innovative technology, and looking to scale up: Apply here before the application deadline of 2nd August 2021.


👀 Who: Angel Syndicates

It’s a loose (and new) category, but we’re seeing more and more “angel syndicates” –– groups of angel investors who curate investors and startups in one place, host pitch events, share intel, and make introductions. 

Syndicates range from informal groups of investors who meet up for coffee, to formal teams with shared staff to help find and approach potential investments.

Most syndicates these days will feature your foodtech startup and have relevant investors in the their network, but here are a few foodtech-focused syndicates worth looking into:

👀 Who: Angel Investors

We put out a call to find out who are the most active angel investors in FoodTech, and received 50+ suggestions from founders and investors. Here are a few that stood out (in no particular order).

  • Ryan Bethencourt: applied biology expert with 140+ biotech/foodtech angel investments. Cutting some of the first checks at Clara Foods, NotCo and many, many others.
  • Michal Klar: plant- and cell-based angel investor with a preference for APAC. Invested in Next Gen Foods and Change Foods amongst others. 
  • Rob Wilder: founder of FoodTech angels and partner of legendary restaurant innovator ThinkFoodGroup.
  • Lara Nuchowicz: focused on investments supporting healthier lives and planet.
  • Erik Byrenius: investor at Trellis Road and angel investor since his restaurant delivery company exited to Delivery Hero in 2012.
  • Neeraj Berry: formerly co-founder of Sprig and now an active investor across foodtech including early investments at Gorillas, Orbillion Bio, Kingdom Supercultures and more.
  • Sean O’Sullivan: “super angel” with 50+ investments in foodtech, including Geltor and Upside Foods.
  • Margaret Coblentz: founder and expert in retail products.
  • Michiel Van Deursen: entrepreneur turned plant-based investor who invested early with The Vegetarian Butcher. Investor at at Heura, Evo Foods, The Vurger Co. and 20+ others.
  • Timo Meyer: broad investment area including CPGs and consumer apps (featuring an early investment into Gorillas).
  • Maximilian Bade: former Atlantic Food Labs investor with a broad angel profile as investor and advisor (including bioreactor meat and circular packaging).
  • Gary Lin: investment profile expands beyond food, but does have a solid streak of social impact and foodtech investments including BIOMILQ, Stockeld Dreamery, Wild Earth and more.
  • HonMun Yip: former Temasek exec making alternative protein investments and advising early-stage startups.
  • Heather Mills: VBites founder and plant-based diet enthusiast.
  • Wolf Michael Nietzer: attorney and investor, as well as founder of Food Angels Germany who have backed Redefine Meat, Just Spices, Peace Of Meat and around 20+ others.
  • Gwendolyn Schröter: impact-oriented and sustainable startup investor in Germany.
  • Gil Horsky: Director of Innovation at SnackFutures (Mondelez innovation & venture studio) with deep corporate experience.
  • Maja Markowitz: the Berlin-based investment manager (now with btov) with an interest in angel investment.
  • Simon Newstead: serial entrepreneur and vegan investor. Investments include Shiok Meats, Change Foods, and around 10 more.
  • Beni Nofech: alt-protein investor in Tel-Aviv, investing in alt protein startups like SuperMeat and Remilk.

💡 Tips for angel fundraising

🔗 Dare to share

Ruben strongly recommends companies “don’t be too secretive.” It’s key to get the word out on your business to the right audience and start building traction early on.

👋 Start the relationship early

Angel investors are normal people like you and me (just with some extra pocket change to spare). Like any normal person, angel investors are more likely to trust, and invest, into people they know. So start networking and building the relationship early on.

📖 Study your space

It’s vital to “learn about the market you’re trying to disrupt. Subscribe to relevant newsletters. Find investors who have invested in similar spaces.” That knowledge will help lend you credibility and approach angels with relevant asks. More tips on researching an investor here.

🧠 Ask for feedback

Think of your angel conversations as ‘pressure tests’ for your ideas. Use them to collect feedback on your business idea and pitch. Angels generally care about your space and want more innovation and growth in the area –– they’re in your corner, even if you’re not in their portfolio.

🖊 Get it in writing

Finally, whatever value you expect the angel to bring –– get it in writing. A major piece of the value angels offer is their advising, so try and map out that engagement as best you can. Here's some helpful tips on advisory shares.

If you're angel investing in foodtech or a startup looking for investors, come join us at this years FoodHack Summit on October 5-6. With already 30+ startups and 20+ investors in foodtech attending, you might just find your match.

Boring disclaimer: This is not financial or investment advice and should not be taken as such. This is not intended to serve as the basis for any investment decision, and doing further due diligence on a potential investment is highly recommended. Invest (or don't) into startups at your own risk.

Angel Investing 101: With Daniel Skavén Ruben

“It’s all a bit serendipitous.”

That’s how Daniel Skavén Ruben describes the matchmaking process between startups and angel investors –– early-stage, individual investors who support companies at the very beginning of their journeys.

It’s a process he knows well, as a food tech expert, investor, and advisor to startups, VCs, and accelerators. He’s also the host of this year’s FoodHack Summit (and writes the excellent FoodTech Weekly newsletter –– subscribe!). 

This week, we sat down with Daniel to chat angel investing: why it’s needed, how it works, and tips for startups seeking angel investment.

🤷 What are angel investors?

Angel investors are individual investors who invest in the earliest stage of a company’ growth. They invest a ‘small’ amount (typically $10K to $100K) before other more traditional investors would be confident enough to invest.

“It’s an interesting risk / reward,” says Ruben. “Early-stage startups are very high risk, and most will not make it. So valuations at that stage are very attractive.” 

That means angels do have a shot at a nice big return –– but most angels aren’t just looking to get in early with a unicorn. They typically have expertise and a network in the startup’s space, so they can actively advise the business towards success. For experts like Ruben, that’s an “opportunity to pay it forward and give back.”

Because angel investors tend to play a hands-on role, they often focus on the industry they know best. In Ruben’s case, that’s “advancing a more sustainable and nourishing food system,” but “other angels have other focus areas. You can optimize the food system for different things. You may care deeply about animal welfare, organic, locally-grown, nutrition, gender, economic opportunity.”

Where different types of funding options come to play in a startup lifecycle. Source: wikimedia

🤔 Why take angel investment?

So what about the startup receiving the investment?

First, It’s available. In the early days, the best a foodtech startup can hope for from a VC is “come back later.” It’s at this stage when angels come in to provide much-needed capital to a great idea or product that might not have a real business plan sorted out.

Second, you gain an advisor. Most angels know your industry well, with a great network of partners, distributors, or possible team members to introduce you to. A small equity stake in the company gives the angels a great incentive to do everything they can to support the business.

👋 How to find your angel?

According to Ruben, the key is to “get yourself out there. Don’t be afraid of sharing your idea. There’s probably 100 people out there who already have the same idea. It’s all about how you execute that idea. You need to dare to share. Even if there are companies doing something similar, there are also differences in how you approach things.”

There are a lot of ways to get the word out. Here are a few examples:

  • Attend conferences: join meetups and events (yep, like the FoodHack Summit) where you can chat with like-minded professionals. Even if you don’t talk to the angel you need, you'll likely connect with someone who can provide you with a warm intro at a later stage.
  • Engage on LinkedIn/Twitter: post the behind-the-scenes story of your startup or share relevant content aligned with your business or industry to start growing your following with potential investors.
  • Participate to accelerators: dedicated accelerators within your industry attract eager angel investors who are looking for the next big thing and most accelerators typically have some sort of investor <> startup matchmaking included in the program. Some will even cut you your first check.
  • Subscribe to newsletters: newsletters like this and Daniel’s FoodTech Weekly are a great way to see who is investing in what spaces and help build your pipeline for later.
  • Attend pitch events: demo days and pitch events are a great way to get your company out to an audience of investors or to collect feedback on your pitch and business idea for further development.
  • Get your deck to investors: our dedicated investor newsletter gets your deck into the inboxes of 200+ VC’s, CVC’s and business angels in foodtech. Selfish plug? You bet, but it works, is free and we’ve matched nearly 100 startups to investors so far.

Sponsored by StartLife

Early-stage Agrifoodtech Startup? Apply to StartLife

StartLife, Europe’s longest running and leading agrifoodtech accelerator, is calling on food & agtech startups to apply to StartLife Accelerate.

Participating startups benefit from:

💼 Business development support
🕴 Introductions to leading corporates
💰 Up to €250K as a convertible loan
💸 Access to (pre)seed and growth investors
👋 Connections to Wageningen University experts

Who should apply? If you're a (pre)seed startup shaping a sustainable food system through innovative technology, and looking to scale up: Apply here before the application deadline of 2nd August 2021.


👀 Who: Angel Syndicates

It’s a loose (and new) category, but we’re seeing more and more “angel syndicates” –– groups of angel investors who curate investors and startups in one place, host pitch events, share intel, and make introductions. 

Syndicates range from informal groups of investors who meet up for coffee, to formal teams with shared staff to help find and approach potential investments.

Most syndicates these days will feature your foodtech startup and have relevant investors in the their network, but here are a few foodtech-focused syndicates worth looking into:

👀 Who: Angel Investors

We put out a call to find out who are the most active angel investors in FoodTech, and received 50+ suggestions from founders and investors. Here are a few that stood out (in no particular order).

  • Ryan Bethencourt: applied biology expert with 140+ biotech/foodtech angel investments. Cutting some of the first checks at Clara Foods, NotCo and many, many others.
  • Michal Klar: plant- and cell-based angel investor with a preference for APAC. Invested in Next Gen Foods and Change Foods amongst others. 
  • Rob Wilder: founder of FoodTech angels and partner of legendary restaurant innovator ThinkFoodGroup.
  • Lara Nuchowicz: focused on investments supporting healthier lives and planet.
  • Erik Byrenius: investor at Trellis Road and angel investor since his restaurant delivery company exited to Delivery Hero in 2012.
  • Neeraj Berry: formerly co-founder of Sprig and now an active investor across foodtech including early investments at Gorillas, Orbillion Bio, Kingdom Supercultures and more.
  • Sean O’Sullivan: “super angel” with 50+ investments in foodtech, including Geltor and Upside Foods.
  • Margaret Coblentz: founder and expert in retail products.
  • Michiel Van Deursen: entrepreneur turned plant-based investor who invested early with The Vegetarian Butcher. Investor at at Heura, Evo Foods, The Vurger Co. and 20+ others.
  • Timo Meyer: broad investment area including CPGs and consumer apps (featuring an early investment into Gorillas).
  • Maximilian Bade: former Atlantic Food Labs investor with a broad angel profile as investor and advisor (including bioreactor meat and circular packaging).
  • Gary Lin: investment profile expands beyond food, but does have a solid streak of social impact and foodtech investments including BIOMILQ, Stockeld Dreamery, Wild Earth and more.
  • HonMun Yip: former Temasek exec making alternative protein investments and advising early-stage startups.
  • Heather Mills: VBites founder and plant-based diet enthusiast.
  • Wolf Michael Nietzer: attorney and investor, as well as founder of Food Angels Germany who have backed Redefine Meat, Just Spices, Peace Of Meat and around 20+ others.
  • Gwendolyn Schröter: impact-oriented and sustainable startup investor in Germany.
  • Gil Horsky: Director of Innovation at SnackFutures (Mondelez innovation & venture studio) with deep corporate experience.
  • Maja Markowitz: the Berlin-based investment manager (now with btov) with an interest in angel investment.
  • Simon Newstead: serial entrepreneur and vegan investor. Investments include Shiok Meats, Change Foods, and around 10 more.
  • Beni Nofech: alt-protein investor in Tel-Aviv, investing in alt protein startups like SuperMeat and Remilk.

💡 Tips for angel fundraising

🔗 Dare to share

Ruben strongly recommends companies “don’t be too secretive.” It’s key to get the word out on your business to the right audience and start building traction early on.

👋 Start the relationship early

Angel investors are normal people like you and me (just with some extra pocket change to spare). Like any normal person, angel investors are more likely to trust, and invest, into people they know. So start networking and building the relationship early on.

📖 Study your space

It’s vital to “learn about the market you’re trying to disrupt. Subscribe to relevant newsletters. Find investors who have invested in similar spaces.” That knowledge will help lend you credibility and approach angels with relevant asks. More tips on researching an investor here.

🧠 Ask for feedback

Think of your angel conversations as ‘pressure tests’ for your ideas. Use them to collect feedback on your business idea and pitch. Angels generally care about your space and want more innovation and growth in the area –– they’re in your corner, even if you’re not in their portfolio.

🖊 Get it in writing

Finally, whatever value you expect the angel to bring –– get it in writing. A major piece of the value angels offer is their advising, so try and map out that engagement as best you can. Here's some helpful tips on advisory shares.

If you're angel investing in foodtech or a startup looking for investors, come join us at this years FoodHack Summit on October 5-6. With already 30+ startups and 20+ investors in foodtech attending, you might just find your match.

Boring disclaimer: This is not financial or investment advice and should not be taken as such. This is not intended to serve as the basis for any investment decision, and doing further due diligence on a potential investment is highly recommended. Invest (or don't) into startups at your own risk.

Angel Investing 101: With Daniel Skavén Ruben

“It’s all a bit serendipitous.”

That’s how Daniel Skavén Ruben describes the matchmaking process between startups and angel investors –– early-stage, individual investors who support companies at the very beginning of their journeys.

It’s a process he knows well, as a food tech expert, investor, and advisor to startups, VCs, and accelerators. He’s also the host of this year’s FoodHack Summit (and writes the excellent FoodTech Weekly newsletter –– subscribe!). 

This week, we sat down with Daniel to chat angel investing: why it’s needed, how it works, and tips for startups seeking angel investment.

🤷 What are angel investors?

Angel investors are individual investors who invest in the earliest stage of a company’ growth. They invest a ‘small’ amount (typically $10K to $100K) before other more traditional investors would be confident enough to invest.

“It’s an interesting risk / reward,” says Ruben. “Early-stage startups are very high risk, and most will not make it. So valuations at that stage are very attractive.” 

That means angels do have a shot at a nice big return –– but most angels aren’t just looking to get in early with a unicorn. They typically have expertise and a network in the startup’s space, so they can actively advise the business towards success. For experts like Ruben, that’s an “opportunity to pay it forward and give back.”

Because angel investors tend to play a hands-on role, they often focus on the industry they know best. In Ruben’s case, that’s “advancing a more sustainable and nourishing food system,” but “other angels have other focus areas. You can optimize the food system for different things. You may care deeply about animal welfare, organic, locally-grown, nutrition, gender, economic opportunity.”

Where different types of funding options come to play in a startup lifecycle. Source: wikimedia

🤔 Why take angel investment?

So what about the startup receiving the investment?

First, It’s available. In the early days, the best a foodtech startup can hope for from a VC is “come back later.” It’s at this stage when angels come in to provide much-needed capital to a great idea or product that might not have a real business plan sorted out.

Second, you gain an advisor. Most angels know your industry well, with a great network of partners, distributors, or possible team members to introduce you to. A small equity stake in the company gives the angels a great incentive to do everything they can to support the business.

👋 How to find your angel?

According to Ruben, the key is to “get yourself out there. Don’t be afraid of sharing your idea. There’s probably 100 people out there who already have the same idea. It’s all about how you execute that idea. You need to dare to share. Even if there are companies doing something similar, there are also differences in how you approach things.”

There are a lot of ways to get the word out. Here are a few examples:

  • Attend conferences: join meetups and events (yep, like the FoodHack Summit) where you can chat with like-minded professionals. Even if you don’t talk to the angel you need, you'll likely connect with someone who can provide you with a warm intro at a later stage.
  • Engage on LinkedIn/Twitter: post the behind-the-scenes story of your startup or share relevant content aligned with your business or industry to start growing your following with potential investors.
  • Participate to accelerators: dedicated accelerators within your industry attract eager angel investors who are looking for the next big thing and most accelerators typically have some sort of investor <> startup matchmaking included in the program. Some will even cut you your first check.
  • Subscribe to newsletters: newsletters like this and Daniel’s FoodTech Weekly are a great way to see who is investing in what spaces and help build your pipeline for later.
  • Attend pitch events: demo days and pitch events are a great way to get your company out to an audience of investors or to collect feedback on your pitch and business idea for further development.
  • Get your deck to investors: our dedicated investor newsletter gets your deck into the inboxes of 200+ VC’s, CVC’s and business angels in foodtech. Selfish plug? You bet, but it works, is free and we’ve matched nearly 100 startups to investors so far.

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👀 Who: Angel Syndicates

It’s a loose (and new) category, but we’re seeing more and more “angel syndicates” –– groups of angel investors who curate investors and startups in one place, host pitch events, share intel, and make introductions. 

Syndicates range from informal groups of investors who meet up for coffee, to formal teams with shared staff to help find and approach potential investments.

Most syndicates these days will feature your foodtech startup and have relevant investors in the their network, but here are a few foodtech-focused syndicates worth looking into:

👀 Who: Angel Investors

We put out a call to find out who are the most active angel investors in FoodTech, and received 50+ suggestions from founders and investors. Here are a few that stood out (in no particular order).

  • Ryan Bethencourt: applied biology expert with 140+ biotech/foodtech angel investments. Cutting some of the first checks at Clara Foods, NotCo and many, many others.
  • Michal Klar: plant- and cell-based angel investor with a preference for APAC. Invested in Next Gen Foods and Change Foods amongst others. 
  • Rob Wilder: founder of FoodTech angels and partner of legendary restaurant innovator ThinkFoodGroup.
  • Lara Nuchowicz: focused on investments supporting healthier lives and planet.
  • Erik Byrenius: investor at Trellis Road and angel investor since his restaurant delivery company exited to Delivery Hero in 2012.
  • Neeraj Berry: formerly co-founder of Sprig and now an active investor across foodtech including early investments at Gorillas, Orbillion Bio, Kingdom Supercultures and more.
  • Sean O’Sullivan: “super angel” with 50+ investments in foodtech, including Geltor and Upside Foods.
  • Margaret Coblentz: founder and expert in retail products.
  • Michiel Van Deursen: entrepreneur turned plant-based investor who invested early with The Vegetarian Butcher. Investor at at Heura, Evo Foods, The Vurger Co. and 20+ others.
  • Timo Meyer: broad investment area including CPGs and consumer apps (featuring an early investment into Gorillas).
  • Maximilian Bade: former Atlantic Food Labs investor with a broad angel profile as investor and advisor (including bioreactor meat and circular packaging).
  • Gary Lin: investment profile expands beyond food, but does have a solid streak of social impact and foodtech investments including BIOMILQ, Stockeld Dreamery, Wild Earth and more.
  • HonMun Yip: former Temasek exec making alternative protein investments and advising early-stage startups.
  • Heather Mills: VBites founder and plant-based diet enthusiast.
  • Wolf Michael Nietzer: attorney and investor, as well as founder of Food Angels Germany who have backed Redefine Meat, Just Spices, Peace Of Meat and around 20+ others.
  • Gwendolyn Schröter: impact-oriented and sustainable startup investor in Germany.
  • Gil Horsky: Director of Innovation at SnackFutures (Mondelez innovation & venture studio) with deep corporate experience.
  • Maja Markowitz: the Berlin-based investment manager (now with btov) with an interest in angel investment.
  • Simon Newstead: serial entrepreneur and vegan investor. Investments include Shiok Meats, Change Foods, and around 10 more.
  • Beni Nofech: alt-protein investor in Tel-Aviv, investing in alt protein startups like SuperMeat and Remilk.

💡 Tips for angel fundraising

🔗 Dare to share

Ruben strongly recommends companies “don’t be too secretive.” It’s key to get the word out on your business to the right audience and start building traction early on.

👋 Start the relationship early

Angel investors are normal people like you and me (just with some extra pocket change to spare). Like any normal person, angel investors are more likely to trust, and invest, into people they know. So start networking and building the relationship early on.

📖 Study your space

It’s vital to “learn about the market you’re trying to disrupt. Subscribe to relevant newsletters. Find investors who have invested in similar spaces.” That knowledge will help lend you credibility and approach angels with relevant asks. More tips on researching an investor here.

🧠 Ask for feedback

Think of your angel conversations as ‘pressure tests’ for your ideas. Use them to collect feedback on your business idea and pitch. Angels generally care about your space and want more innovation and growth in the area –– they’re in your corner, even if you’re not in their portfolio.

🖊 Get it in writing

Finally, whatever value you expect the angel to bring –– get it in writing. A major piece of the value angels offer is their advising, so try and map out that engagement as best you can. Here's some helpful tips on advisory shares.

If you're angel investing in foodtech or a startup looking for investors, come join us at this years FoodHack Summit on October 5-6. With already 30+ startups and 20+ investors in foodtech attending, you might just find your match.

Boring disclaimer: This is not financial or investment advice and should not be taken as such. This is not intended to serve as the basis for any investment decision, and doing further due diligence on a potential investment is highly recommended. Invest (or don't) into startups at your own risk.

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